Why I Haven’t Given up on Christians

Why I Haven’t Given up on Christians December 15, 2014


Today’s post is from Laura Statesir, Director of Family and Youth at The Marin Foundation.

A while ago I wrote a post about how those who have been hurt by the Church can begin to heal. (You can read it here.) Those recommendations were not an exercise in theoretical application; they sprung from my own experiences of being deeply wounded by Christians.


I grew up in church. My family was there every time the doors were open. I loved to attend Vacation Bible School, choir, mission trips, Christian camps, etc. I gave my life to Christ in high school and vowed to serve Him with all my being. In college I spent my summers volunteering and working for Christian camps and organizations. I led Bible studies, served with various ministries, and even joined a Christian sorority. After college I became a missionary with a parachurch Christian organization and devoted myself to reaching, loving on, and discipling teenagers for Christ. My whole identity was in being a Christian, a missionary, and a child of God.

But when I came out as gay everything came crashing down around me. Within a week of coming out to my boss I was forced to resign. I had devoted five years of my life to serving with this Christian organization. In that time I had helped start youth groups, led Bible studies, discipled youth, and pioneered and expanded many other programs. I made more sacrifices than I can remember. I gave up friends, family, security, comfort, everything – to serve there. I witnessed God do huge things in me and through me. But none of that mattered once my secret was out. In the eyes of that Christian organization’s governing body, all they saw was the label “GAY”.

Being forced to resign and subsequently leaving behind my work, my friends, my church, and my community was the most devastating experience of my life. Being seen not as the devoted Christian I was but instead as a sinful, fallen lesbian almost irrevocably destroyed my faith. And it broke my heart that few in my local Christian community stood up for me. Most folks with whom I had served, laughed, prayed, cried, and bared my soul stood by in silence. They knew my character. They knew my faith and my love for the youth I served. They knew that nothing had changed between the day before I finally came out and the day after. They loved me but they either didn’t have the power or the courage to fight for me.

I spent the next couple of years wondering where God was in all of this. I have never felt so lost, confused, hopeless, and broken. I questioned whether I really wanted to be associated with a group of people (Christians) who had failed so miserably at loving me. It rocked my faith that many of my non-Christian friends were more accepting, supportive, and Christ-like than some of my Christian friends.

After a long, arduous, and painful journey God managed to put many of the pieces back together. God did so in part by using the last group I would have expected: my evangelical church back home in conservative Bible-belt Texas. I didn’t give up on Christians (even though I had plenty of reason to) because of the love shown to me by people in my home church. People like:

  • My parents who gave me a place to live and always loved me unconditionally even when their faith seemed at odds with my sexuality.
  • The Sunday school classes that allowed me to share my story and gave me a standing ovation even though the denomination the church belongs to is not open and affirming of LGBTQ people.
  • Donors from that church (and others throughout the country) who support me financially and believe in my work, the vast majority of whom are straight evangelical Christians from the South.
  • The Christian man who I have spent over a year emailing with, sharing my story, discussing our theological views, and explaining things about the LGBTQ community. We didn’t come to an agreement. We don’t see eye to eye, but I know he loves me. In seeking to understand me he has shown me love.
  • The folks from my home church who attended my wedding reception in September and who greeted my wife with love and open arms regardless of their beliefs on same-sex marriage.

These are some of the Christians who have helped me in my ongoing process of healing. These are folks that have shown me true unconditional love. They may not agree with me but they still made me feel welcome, cared for, and loved. They have shown me there is a place for me and my LGBTQ brothers and sisters at Christ’s table. This is the Body of Christ that keeps me from giving up on the Church.

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